We continue to be contacted regularly by members and non-members expressing dismay at FLS’s recent decision to cull red deer hinds from the beginning of September, being concerned about welfare consequences for orphaned juveniles - if these are not shot with the mother.
We must reiterate that, under the provisions of their General Authorisation, FLS are acting completely legally. BDS, however, has in the past, and currently is, exploring every opportunity to seek a review of the earliest cull date to be permitted under such authorisations.
We argue that while perhaps the majority of young are nutritionally independent of the dam after 12 weeks, most remain socially dependent on the mother for a considerably longer period, particularly among herding species such as red deer, and thus may suffer significantly from loss of the dam.
There is now considerable published research on both nutritional and social independence of juveniles and we are, as ever, urging the responsible authorities to review the latest research and reconsider the September start to such Authorisations.
Managing Deer During C-19 - Challenges and Opportunities
Wednesday 23rd September at 19.30 Streaming Live on The British Deer Society YouTube Channel.
With the continuing uncertainty of local spikes, lockdowns and second waves coupled with economic uncertainty:
How do we manage deer effectively in the coming months?
How do we need to adjust best practice to be safe?
Can cull targets be delivered?
Does the price of venison need to be pushed lower?
Do we need to educate a new market and how can we do it?
How do we ensure best practice as a Society when training is so difficult to manage?
Is the restaurant, catering and food sector market likely to resume at previous levels?
What action should the Government take?
The Regulation of deer control when crops are affected in Scotland since 2012.
BDS is of the opinion that there may be a need for a greater understanding of the issues of shooting at female deer in September and that we are concerned about the news that Forest & Land Scotland have advised their staff and contractors that, if acting according to Best Practice and their own judgement, they may make full use of the regulations introduced in 2012 which allow them to shoot female deer and their dependents under the General Authorisations enacted in the Wildlife and Natural Environment Act 2011, BDS appreciates that this concern is limited to the very few instances when events, unfortunately, differ from plans and that there are risks if adult females are shot in September.
We hope that those contemplating taking a shot consider carefully the Best Practice covering this situation, taking into consideration the apparent absence of obvious dependents, the visibility of the entire deer group, the correct pairing of dam and calf, and the wisdom of shooting at female deer in September.
We acknowledge that the regulations permit the shooting of female deer and their dependents from 1 September but hope that there will only be a minority interested in this practice; should they be found not adhering to Best Practice, or even potentially abusing welfare aspects, they should be reported for such activity.
Due to the imposition of further national Covid -19 restrictions from Monday the 14th of September and localised spikes, we would like to clarify the British Deer Society’s (BDS) position regarding training courses.
As BDS training courses are educational they are exempt from the new restrictions regarding gatherings of no more than six people. Our DSC1 , Deer Management, HAD courses etc. will therefore continue to run providing there are no local spikes or localised complications that could compromise the safety and wellbeing of course attendees and tutors. If there are complications we will inform those attending the course as soon as possible.
Our course managers will ensure that sanitising facilities are available. However, attendees should also make sure to bring their own personal protective equipment, such as face masks and nitrile gloves.
An innovative working group has been created across England and Wales to reignite the venison market.
The group including BDS TD Nick Rout will focus on strengthening existing markets and opening new channels to counter competition provided by imports and reduced demand due to COVID-19.
The Wild Venison Working Group is facilitated and chaired by The Forestry Commission and has representation from a broad range of stakeholders from the woodland management, shooting, gamekeeping, and venison supply sectors including The British Deer Society. The group is working in collaboration with organisations in Scotland to ensure efficiency and effectiveness.
Wednesday 19th August at 19.30 – 20.45 Streaming Live on The British Deer Society YouTube Channel.
Webinar Live Stream = https://youtu.be/bdlr-topL3k
Prior to lockdown, the price of venison was already under pressure, allegedly due to large scale culls in Europe. With lockdown came a closure of restaurants and a further drop in demand for venison - some prices reaching a low of £1 a kilo or less!
This price decline alongside the concern linked to rising deer numbers has led to many challenges for the stalker – Is it worth following the management plan? What do I do with the venison? How are game dealers to survive?
The first event in the Society’s Free webinar series will give the opportunity for representatives across the industry to come together to discuss the issues and to answer questions as we all work to find the best ways forward through these challenging times.
Many people are used to feeding birds and leaving food for other wildlife in their gardens and may naturally assume they can do this for wild deer too. BDS is often asked about this.
However, there is really no need, as deer can usually find all that they need naturally and it can actually take their stomachs some time to adapt to any new food items to which they are not used. Regular feeding also causes the deer to become unnaturally dependent on humans for food which can actually lead to deer becoming a nuisance in some cases and even developing aggressive behaviour.
It's a sad fact, but every day there are deer-vehicle collisions (DVC) on our UK roads. BDS members and branches are active throughout the year campaigning and working to raise awareness and reduce DVCs.
In addition, BDS actively records and shares DVC data with a number of organisations large and small across the UK who are also keen to get a clearer picture of the scale of the issue and where the worst affected areas are. However, we currently only receive a tiny fraction of reports which means the real scale of the problem may well be going under-recorded.
We urge everyone if you are aware of a DVC to please report it to BDS either using our Deer App or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with the location and deer species if known.
Please when reporting a DVC please do so safely, our app allows for retrospective reports to be sent to us after a DVC and from a different location.